COVID-19: Western Australia keeps borders shut. Cancels 5 February re-opening
AA56, one of my most frequent commenters and staunch defenders of a COVID safe Western Australia was right.
‘No chance Western Australia will open up on 5th February 2022.’AA56 comment
Western Australia’s Premier Mark McGowan announced late last night that WA would not be opening its borders on 5 February as previously promised. Because of the omicron outbreaks elsewhere, WA would be keeping its borders shut for the foreseeable future, albeit with wider grounds for exceptions, especially for those sandgropers returning to their home state.
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Overseas Arrivals / Departures
This will be an utter blow for the international airline industry that had up to 45 flights planned to arrive on that first day of re-opening. These will now need to be cancelled or re-routed.
What will Qantas do about its re-launch of flights to London and Rome via Perth? Will it get some kind of exception for domestic to international transfers? Or will they have to keep Darwin as their point of transfer?
Who’s in and who’s out in WA
McGowan has given no estimated date of re-opening, but has flagged that the state needs to reach a target of between 80 and 90% of residents having a third ‘booster’ dose of vaccine.
He has however changed some of the restrictions on returning citizens:
“It would be reckless and irresponsible to open now. I understand many people had planned around the date, and it’s important we now provide a pathway for people to enter under compassionate grounds,”Mark McGowan, Premier Western Australia
Western Australians who are returning to the state, or with close family connections will be able to enter the state, as long as they are triple vaccinated, have a negative rapid antigen (RAT) test 24 hours prior to entry and serve time in quarantine. International travel is permitted, but has to be within current capacity limits, and will require 14 days in hotel or home quarantine.
There is also some controversy that WA was last to the RAT ordering party, has a health system that is completely underprepared, incapable of expanding to deal with COVID cases, and that it has failed to adequately immunise indigenous communities, especially those in the Kimberly to the state’s north.
I think this is actually a wise move. WA will avoid the shadow lockdown present in the eastern states in the face of Omicron. It will allow the state to proceed pretty much as it is, without a major outbreak – hopefully. The downside is the hit to tourism and other industries that depend on interstate travel.
WA also under invests in its health system compared to other states, which does not put it in a strong condition to deal with the strains that will inevitably be visited on its health system once it opens its borders
That might be a small price to pay, and one that NSW and Victoria should have shelled out for, instead of adopting the ‘let it rip’ policy they now have, with the consequent tragic boom in deaths and hospitalisation.